Following weeks of negotiations and planning, Governor Scott Walker announced a financing deal Thursday designed to “protect state taxpayers from a loss of approximately $419 million, if the NBA relocates the Milwaukee Bucks,” per an official press release.
The plan — dubbed Cheaper to Keep Them: State and Local Arena Plan — will cap state contribution to the arena project at $80 million over 20 years. Expected to cost in the neighborhood of $500 million, the arena project will receive $250 million from state and local governments. Former Bucks owner Herb Kohl has already pledged $100 million to the construction of a new arena, while the current ownership group, led by Wes Edens and Mark Lasry, will cover the remaining $150 million, in addition to any above-budget costs.
Walker emphasized the fiscal benefits of the Bucks remaining in Milwaukee, noting that if the team is relocated, state taxpayers would stand to lose out on at least $419 million over the next 20 years as a result of “loss of current revenue, future growth, and the ongoing costs to maintain the Bradley Center.”
“We’ve considered the financial impacts on the state should the Bucks stay or go, and quite simply, we found it’s cheaper to keep them,” Walker said. “Our plan is the result of a state and local, public and private alliance, and it is developed with the goal of ensuring a good return to our state taxpayers. Under this plan, for every dollar the state invests, state taxpayers will get a $3 return on that investment.”
Included in the official press release was a more detailed breakdown of the proposal:
While this is certainly a step in the right direction for the Bucks, it’s important to note that nothing is set in stone. The plan now must pass through the Milwaukee Common Council as well as the state legislature, which is Republican-controlled.
Skeptics of the plan will likely point to the Miller Park debacle as a sticking point, as new taxes were levied to pay for the state-of-the-art baseball stadium. However, Walker emphasized that this new plan does not create any new taxes.
Gov. Walker: this is different than Miller Park and Lambeau renovation because there's no new taxes being added like those had.
— JP Cadorin (@jpcadorin) June 4, 2015
The Bucks released the following statement, attributed to President Peter Feigin regarding the arena financing proposal:
“We’re incredibly thankful for the leadership and commitment of state, city and county officials to put together a viable financing framework for this public-private partnership to build a new sports and entertainment district in Wisconsin. While there is still a lot of work to be done in a short time frame, this is a big step forward in our collective effort to build a transformative economic and cultural asset in downtown Milwaukee. We will continue to work closely with our public partners to make sure this historic effort is successful.”